Theresa May has announced that companies will have to report their ethnic pay gaps. This is going to go horribly, horribly, wrong. Because the people running this are entirely ignorant of the most basic facts about ethnicity in the UK. Mass immigration is a fairly recent thing. Thus the age structures of the different “racial” populations are different. This means, righteously, that there are fewer ethnic minorities in those senior and well paid jobs than the ethnic portion of the general population would suggest there should be.
No, this isn’t because the system is biased in favour of pinkish people like me and against those with a lesser melanin deficiency. It’s because those melanin blessed tend to be younger than those my own shade of gammon.
And terribly the very people trying to run this new reporting system are unaware of this simple fact:
Simon Woolley is chair of the government’s race disparity unit advisory group
OK, so that’s one of the people responsible in this area, yes?
And we know that ethnic-minority people are not yet represented as they should be in leadership positions. For example, in the public sector, despite making up 14% of the working-age population, ethnic minorities make up only 6.4% of NHS “very senior managers”, 3.7% of police officers ranked chief inspector or above, 3.4% of headteachers and 2.4% of armed forces officers.
In practice, this means that talented people are not being given the chance to contribute as much as they could. In sporting terms, we are leaving some of our best players “on the bench”.
Nonsense. The man’s ignorant. As my letter in The Times today points out:
Sir, Theresa May’s idea that all employers should publish their ethnic pay gap is going to be expensive and misleading. Expensive because such statistics cost to collect and collate, misleading because the age structure of the population differs by formally defined race. From the 2011 census, the whole population median age was 39, that of the white population 41, Asian, black and other, 30, 30 and 29 respectively, and mixed 18. Pay rises with age, as promotions to better-paid positions are earned through experience.
Populations with higher median ages have higher median wages therefore. No one will pay attention to this simple truth when the figures are announced — thus misleading us all. Given the age structure of the varied populations, ethnic minorities should have lower median pay than whites. This won’t be the reaction to the finding of an ethnic pay gap, though, will it?
Senior fellow, Adam Smith Institute
As I further point out at the ASI:
A population on average a decade younger than another will be earning lower wages. Ought to be earning lower wages. And yet that they are earning lower wages will become accepted evidence of gross discrimination.
The Prime Minster has just made a serious error here. She’s insisting upon the publication of figures that will only ever be used as a stick for her back. When all they actually will show is that mass immigration is a relatively recent phenomenon, which is why the ethnic age profiles are so different.
We’re reminded of Sir John Cowperthwaite. and the GDP figures in Hong Kong. Sometimes collecting the statistics is a bad idea because some damn fool will only do something with them.
The problem appears to be that we’re hiring damn fools like Simon Woolley to do things with these figures we’re wrongly collecting in a manner we shouldn’t be collecting them.
And do you know what really, really, worries me? As far as I can tell I’m the only damn person at all who has even noticed this difference in age profiles across melanin contents.